Eagles did poor job of preparing players for Sunday night’s events

Washington Football Team v Philadelphia Eagles
Getty Images

The first rule of Tank Club is never talk about Tank Club. But before a tank can be implemented, it’s important in some cases to make sure that those who may be surprised and dismayed by the development are prepared for it.

The Eagles obviously failed to let enough people know, internally or externally, that Week 17 would be about something other than winning the game. And they’re now dealing with the fallout.

Yes, Eagles coach Doug Pederson suggested in the days preceding the game that backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld would get some playing time. But that message wasn’t conveyed nearly strongly enough to overcome the perception that the Eagles — like other teams that could have played to lose and in turn to enhance draft position in Week 17 — were in it to win it.

“We’ve got to have a no-hat rule this week,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz told reporters on Tuesday of last week. “We can’t let opponents put division win hats on at [Lincoln Financial Field]. There’s a lot of pride in that, and all our focus has to be to accomplishing that this week.”

That was regarded as a vow when it was said. Maybe it was an aspiration, or a plea. Maybe Schwartz knew which way the wind was blowing, and that he was hoping there would be a change in the direction of the breeze.

Regardless, there was no clear reason to think that the Eagles would try to lose the game. The Vikings could have (should have) laid down against the Lions. The 49ers could have laid down against the Seahawks (the 49ers lost anyway). Although it makes sense to take a loss in a meaningless game in order to get a higher draft pick, teams usually don’t do it.

They don’t do it for the very reasons why the Eagles shouldn’t have done it. Unless everyone realizes what’s happening, it sets the stage for dissension and dysfunction.

So what should the Eagles have done? They should have simply started Sudfeld — and they should have announced during the week that Sudfeld would get the gig. There would have been grumbling and complaints and other problems, but everyone would have known from the get go that the Eagles wouldn’t be going for the victory.

Why is that important? Beyond the internal damage done by the unexpected benching on Jalen Hurts, people who legally wagered their hard-earned money on the Eagles to win or to cover or who placed prop bets based on the performance of Jalen Hurt, etc., are upset about what happened. While the outcry hasn’t reached the kind of critical mass that would catch the attention of members of Congress (then again, they have other whales to fry), it’s an example of the kind of thing that could become an issue for the league as legalized gambling continues to spread.

Inside information is a very real dynamic in sports. Despite efforts to level the playing field, it exists. Given that the Eagles opened as slight favorites and that the line moved in Washington’s direction before closing with Washington as a 6.5-point favorite, some knew what was going on.

But not nearly enough. And that will haunt the Eagles throughout the 2021 offseason, and likely beyond.

30 responses to “Eagles did poor job of preparing players for Sunday night’s events

  1. The guy I really feel bad for in all this is Sudfeld. Tank-gate is literally the only thing he may be remembered for as an NFL player and all for only doing as he was told.

  2. poor Nate Sudfeld. The way the media is disrespecting him is worse than online bullying.

  3. Really, we’re concerned because of gambling? Anyone gambling on a week 17 dumpster fire matchup needs to have their head checked. You folks should be writing about the great games this weekend instead of this.

  4. Ahhh……no. Decisions should NEVER be made with respect to how it will affect those who bet on the game. They are wagering their money on an outcome and taking a chance. A whole slew of things can affect the outcome, including what the coaches plan is. By sharing that, the coach can tip off his opponent and affect the outcome too……….and sorry, not feeling sorry for those who wager on a game, and lose. It’s the price of being able to wager on it at all.

  5. You could have stopped after, “the eagles did a poor job”. It will be interesting to see how they proceed forward. As a Cowboys fan I am loving the turmoil. If the plan is to trade/release Wentz and go with Hurts, then taking him out makes sense to preserve him and further evaluate Sudfeld. If they plan on sticking with Wentz, then why evaluate Sudfeld? Looking at the investment, it would make more sense to give valuable game experience to the rook. If they truly flopped, the football gods generally have a solid response for that sort of thing.

  6. For those that have commented over the past couple of days suggesting what Pederson did was “no big deal”. Ask yourself, if that was the case, why are so many Eagles players reportingly so angry? Players don’t like to roll over, especially Eagles players about to end their careers with the organization. You give the team your blood and sweat over the years and basically wave the white flag on a Sunday night. Disgraceful. Was Hurts having a great game, no. Is he substantially better than the alternative, you bet. The article above is bang on. The team should have handled this in a different manner.

  7. Even if the Vikings would have laid down against the Lions the Lions still would have found a way to lose. It’s what they do.

  8. If it weren’t for the poor refereeing, the Vikings would have lost even though they weren’t trying to tank. The terrible call that gave them 6 points Vikings would have drafted the 9th pick instead of number 16. Dang ref’s mess with them either way.

  9. The Eagles deactivated a bunch of guys and they had Nate Sudfeld waiting in the wings just in case the Football Team was having a hard time accepting the gift. As anyone who has watched the Football Team might have figured, they did just that, so it was Sudfeld time. When the Eagles got the ball back with under a minute, they never threw the ball down the field, possibly afraid 2 defenders might run into each other and the Eagles would score.

  10. I don’t think the NFL is taking this serious enough they keep letting teams tank and they made the huge mistake of legalizing betting on the games pretty soon there goin to start finding guys with concrete boots in the east river !

  11. The line changed because of common sense. Wft needed a win and the eagles didnt. Most bettors gladly would take WFT with either the points or straight up over the eagles in that scenario when the eagles were favored so the line changed.

  12. Slow the hype train on Hurts. When it comes to throwing the ball Hurts was just as bad as Wentz. He really excelled in running the ball which makes many people overlook his passing deficiencies.

    Wentz will be the starter next year. The Eagles need to focus on getting a healthy oline and having Wentz improve his throwing mechanics.

  13. This is all Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman. It was all about the draft pick. Doug had no say-so, other than he was assured he would be back next year. Doug is always the Fall Guy for the front office.

  14. This game was always going to be a dumpster fire between two bad teams from a bad division. If it hadn’t got flexed to SNF and eliminated a big market team, few people would be talking about it. Hurts was not much better than Sudfield in that game with a passer rating of 25. Pederson was not benching Patrick Mahomes. And if the Giants wanted to go to the playoffs so badly, maybe win more than 6 games. Eagles getting criticized for something that has been standard operating procedure and expected for years in the NBA and now MLB is silly. Everyone should stop the pearl-clutching.

  15. Gambling is why we should care? Really? No concern at all for all the guys who were risking injury while the coach was trying to tank? No worries about the integrity of the game? The only concern was for some idiots dumb enough to bet on a game where one team had zero reason to try?

  16. Given all the bad energy around this, I’m not sure I’d want to be the Eagles’ 1st round pick this year.

  17. If Pederson was truly trying to win the game, he should be fired for incompetence. Since he hasn’t been fired, it must be that he was following orders to throw the game. In that case, the league should take away their first round draft pick. This is very black and white. No grey. If the league doesn’t act, then fans need to stop spending their money on this fraudulent product.

  18. Dear Mr. Florio,
    This Eagles tank situation has me OUTRAGED!
    OK, I’m over it. Let’s move on to the next news cycle.

  19. wouldn’t surprise me if this is why the league bumped up this game to Primetime when there were so many better options than two losing teams. Getting the WFT into the playoffs was always the plan. So they can hype up Rivera and stir in some more Snyder controversy along with kiss up to Alex Smith. They called up Lurie and told him to make it happen in the most viral way possible. The bias towards the NFC lEast is nauseating.

  20. I’m just going to say it outright and these are the facts whether you want to believe it or not. If the races if the qb’s were reversed, all of these same players would’ve celebrated the decision and would’ve had zero problem with it period.

  21. Much ado about nothing. The Eagles players will get over it. I guarantee during the season there were times when each player had a gripe about something. They got over it. They’ll get over this once they’re focused on next season.

    Plus the assumption that the Eagles would have won if only Hurts was kept in the lineup is a stretch. He was lousy except for a few runs. They may have won, they may not have, but he wasn’t showing enough to assume they would have. Pederson hoped, no doubt, that Sudfeld would do better in the passing game–it would be hard to be worse. It just didn’t work out.

  22. “people who legally wagered their hard-earned money on the Eagles to win or to cover … are upset about what happened”

    So friggin’ what? Are teams now supposed to fashion their play to keep bettors happy? Of all possible criticisms of the Eagles’ game strategy this one is the least supportable.

  23. “people who legally wagered their hard-earned money on the Eagles to win or to cover or who placed prop bets based on the performance of Jalen Hurt, etc., are upset about what happened”

    This is ridiculous. It is called gambling for a reason. Las Vegas casinos were not built off of losing money. Gamble at your own risk.

  24. I would bet most teams would prefer to have Carson Wentz as their franchise quarterback versus Nate Sudfeld or Jalen Hurts.

    The disarray in Philadelphia has taken on a life of its own. The line was in shambles, they’ve reached on WR busts for a decade, and Doug Pedersen lost his fastball. To think, going forward, that Jalen Hurts or Sudfeld are better long-term passers than Wentz is a mistake.

  25. Goodell talks all the time about “Protecting the Shield.” It’s hard to imagine something more destructive to the integrity of the league than the Eagles coaching staff failing to make a good faith effort to win a regular season game, on national TV no less. Should result in fines, suspensions, and draft picks taken away.

  26. Intentionally throwing a fight is illegal; intentionally fixing a horse race is illegal. If the Philadelphia Eagles intentionally lost on Sunday night, they committed a crime. I don’t care if you don’t like betting on athletic contests; fixing them is illegal. The NFL has embraced legalized gambling; how can it not embrace the underlying requirements that govern all other athletic contests subject to gambling? The penalties for intentionally tanking should be severe and swift lest the NFL invited Federal regulation.

  27. The think of all the gamblers going hungry after wagering their grocery money on a football game is an unusual angle for an NFL tanking story.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.